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Hong Kong buzzing as city heads into long Mid-Autumn Festival weekend, with crowds drawn to fire dragon dance, night markets

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An estimated 1 million mainland Chinese are expected to visit the city over the eight days that their “golden week” lasts.

Chan also visited Tai Hang with Secretary for Culture, Sports and Tourism Kevin Yeung for the fire dragon dance, an intangible cultural heritage event making its return after a four-year hiatus.

Finance chief Paul Chan (third left) and tourism minister Kevin Yeung (second right) stop by the fire dragon dance in Tin Hai Photo: Facebook@Paul M.P. Chan

Chan delivered remarks to the crowd in Tai Hang shortly before the dragon dance began.

“Hong Kong has emerged from the pandemic and the situation is getting better as we had 4 million tourists coming to the city last month, which was 80 per cent of the pre-pandemic level,” he said. “I hope residents will go out more at night and make the vibe better.”

In the morning, the minister appeared in Sai Wan to help launch a day of free tram rides as part of the city’s celebrations.

Even the hot weather failed to dampen people’s enthusiasm. The Hong Kong Observatory said this Mid-Autumn Festival was the hottest on record, with the temperature climbing to 33.7 degrees Celsius (93 Fahrenheit). The hot weather is predicted to prevail over the long weekend with isolated showers expected.

Victoria Park’s festive display proved a popular draw. Photo: Yik Yeung-man

To help keep the crowds moving, most MTR lines and seven light rail routes will run overnight while KMB and LWB buses will extend their nighttime services on Friday.

People also headed to shopping malls, especially to take advantage of special dining offers. At the APM mall in Kwun Tong, hundreds of consumers queued up for e-vouchers which included HK$20 (US$2.5) coupons for food and catering and HK$100 coupons for shopping.

Families with young children crowded into the plaza on Lee Tung Avenue in Wan Chai to watch performers stage a hi-tech dragon dance with the massive puppet festooned with LED lights.

The hi-tech dragon is paraded along Lee Tung Avenue in Wan Chai. Photo: Edmond So

Leona Chow, 38, a housewife, brought her five-year old and seven-year-old daughters to extend their celebration after a family meal.

“I appreciate people keeping the tradition in a different way,” she said. “The one in Tai Hang with fire and incense was too much for the kids.”

Revellers get up close to the fire dragon Fiesta on Lee Tung Avenue. Photo: Edmond So

In Wan Chai’s waterfront promenade, more than 1,000 visitors flocked to a night bazaar to enjoy street food and pose against the city’s dazzling skyline under a full moon, while a drone show over Victoria Harbour dazzled spectators.

But the festivities were interrupted when electricity failed at 7.10pm, a problem that has persisted since the market’s debut on Wednesday, causing a handful of vendors to be forced to send customers away.

Shirley Chan, 55, who was selling siu mai and home-made ice cream, said she was “deeply disappointed” by the unreliable power supply.

“We have to apologise to the customers,” she said. “The traffic is ideal but the arrangement is very messy.”

Hong Kong hosts Wan Chai bazaar but power supply glitches zap event energy

She had doubled her stock and was prepared to sell at least 300 sets of siu mai on Friday, but the power shortage had left her unsure how the night would turn out.

“We lose all the business when the power is out,” she said.

Leonardo Chan, 25, a personal trainer who came with his girlfriend, bought noodles as the food options narrowed

“I would like to buy waffles, but I just learned of the power cut,” he said.

Vendors at the Kennedy Town bazaar say they are pleased with the turnout on Friday. Photo: Facebook@Edward Mak

In Kennedy Town, dozens of vendors were setting up stalls selling souvenirs, accessories and other trinkets for a temporary bazaar along the promenade as part of the government’s Night Vibes campaign.

One vendor selling candles, who only identified herself as Peggy, said the turnout at the Kennedy Town bazaar on her first day of operation was much better than expected.

“My rent this time was free, so even if not a lot of people had turned up, there wouldn’t be much loss,” she said.

Secretary for Development Bernadette Linn Hon-ho said earlier that most vendors and performers at the trio of night markets would not be charged rent or would enjoy subsidies.

Another vendor, Henry Ho, who was running a stall for Glass Gardener selling pre-made specialty cocktails in bottles, said he was only notified the rent would be free about two weeks beforehand. He had been prepared to pay about HK$1,000 for four nights.

1 million mainland Chinese tourists expected in Hong Kong for ‘golden week’

“We also set up shop at other markets. Yesterday, we did one in a shopping centre, and the foot traffic was not so great, to be honest,” he said. “This level of turnout today is fantastic and totally unexpected.”

Some shop owners were also selling cooked foods at the event named “K-Market”, while a crowd gathered in front of the stage to watch live band and DJ performances.

Many visitors chose to dine on the snacks they had purchased under pavilions lit up by rows of colourful lanterns and string lights, under a full moon.

Various photo spots had also been set up, such as a large, circular white screen with a bright light behind it so people could throw eye-catching shadows as they posed.

One of the attractions at the Kennedy Town night market that invites people to pose against a lighted backdrop and create shadows for photographs. Photo: Wynna Wong

The event also provided attractions for the younger attendees. Children were seen whizzing around a small maze that had been set up near the waterfront.

Sisters Jenny and Sneha Lalwani, in their 20s, said they had seen posts about the market on Instagram and decided to come by as well.

“We bought these two little rings for HK$20 [US$2.5] each,” they told the Post as they held up their matching accessories.

Asked how they felt about the government’s campaign to bring Hongkongers out and about again after dark, and whether they had been going out at night lately, they said: “Of course! It’s the holidays right now, so we’ve been out … [the campaign] is great because Hong Kong used to be known for its nightlife, but everyone has been staying home since the pandemic.”

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